Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


49th Annual Convention; Denver, CO; 2023

Event Details

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Symposium #53
CE Offered: BACB
Embracing Child Voice and Compassion: Best Practices for Application of Adapted Group-Based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy for Children and Youth With Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Anxiety, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
Saturday, May 27, 2023
3:00 PM–3:50 PM
Hyatt Regency, Capitol Ballroom 5-7
Area: CBM/DDA; Domain: Service Delivery
Chair: Tricia Corinne Vause (Brock University)
Discussant: Christina M. Peters (Northwest Behavioral Associates)
CE Instructor: Christina M. Peters, Ph.D.

Adapted group-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) has been linked to a number of benefits for children with ASD, anxiety and ADHD, including increased social interactions, skill generalization, coping strategies, and emotional regulation. Further, it provides clinicians with the ability to work with children simultaneously, making it more accessible to a larger number of individuals at potentially reduced costs. This symposium includes two presentations on the application of adapted group-based CBT for children and youth with ASD, anxiety and ADHD. The first presentation will provide a synthesis of best practices and clinical recommendations for implementing adapted group-CBT for children with ASD and anxiety and/or obsessive compulsive behaviours. The second presentation is a direct application of these best practices within a blended dance and behaviour therapy program for children with ADHD in mental health day treatment. Together, these presentations will provide practical information for clinicians coupled with a direct application of adapted group-CBT.

Instruction Level: Intermediate
Keyword(s): adapted CBT, child voice, group treatment, neurodiversity
Target Audience:

Target audience members should have or be working toward BCBA certification and have a thorough understanding of basic behaviour principles. No knowledge of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is required.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) list the effects of integrating child voice and compassion on both children and their parents within the context of adapted group-CBT; (2) identify a minimum of three adaptations needed to effectively deliver group-based CBT to children with ASD, anxiety, and/or ADHD; and (3) describe how these adaptations can be implemented within a community-based treatment program.

Best Practices and Clinical Recommendations for Adapted Group Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to Treat Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Behaviours in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorder

BRIANNA M. ANDERSON (Brock University), Tricia Corinne Vause (Brock University), Donato Tarulli (Brock University), Jan Frijters (Brock University), Maurice Feldman (Dept. of Applied Disability Studies, Brock University)

Many children with high functioning autism spectrum disorder (ASD) experience mental health challenges, such as obsessive-compulsive behaviours (OCBs) and anxiety. While a number of studies have been published evaluating adapted group-based Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) with and without behaviour analytic strategies for treating OCBs and anxiety, a synthesis of best practices for clinical implementation is sorely needed. Upon review of existing literature, we chose to highlight best practices across four key areas—(a) consent, assent, and child voice; (b) compassionate care; (c) parent involvement; and (d) ASD adaptations (e.g., simplifying instructions, providing structure and predictability). The aim of this presentation is to provide clinicians with a cohesive summary of best practices across these four areas so they can effectively provide adapted group-based CBT to children with ASD and anxiety and/or OCBs. Further, we provide empirically informed recommendations that can be implemented by frontline clinicians as well as examples from evidence-based adapted CBT programs for children with ASD to further illustrate these recommendations.


Dance With a B-E-A-T: Individualized Dance Programming With Behavior Analysis and Therapy for Children With Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

DANA KALIL (Brock University), Tricia Corinne Vause (Brock University), Linda Morrice (Pathstone Mental Health), Sarah Davis (Brock University), Brianna M. Anderson (Brock University), Priscilla Burnham Riosa (Brock University), Maureen Connolly (Brock University)

A manualized program, Dance with a B-E-A-T (Behavior Analysis and Therapy), was embedded within children’s day treatment. Our program combines recreational dance with behavior analysis and therapy to help facilitate improvements in motor skills, social skills, emotional regulation, and self-coping. The present study used therapeutic components, such as antecedent strategies, a token economy, relaxation, constructive self-talk and covert coping strategies. Five participants with ADHD and anxiety (7-9 years) participated with the aim of teaching three dance combinations and facilitating social-emotional coping. Observational probes at pre- and post-test measured percentage of dance skills completed correctly using a task analysis for each dance skill. Results suggested a positive impact on the group’s physical and social skills. There was a statistically significant improvement in correct steps between pre- and post-test for two of the three dance skills and the mean IOA score was 86%. Treatment integrity for program implementation was 91%. The Consumer Satisfaction Questionnaire indicated that the day treatment counsellor and teacher were extremely satisfied with the program. Qualitative data from satisfaction questionnaires, case notes and a word cloud conducted with children and staff suggested that participants had a very positive experience. Implications and current iterations of the program will be discussed.




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